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This is not a blog post for everyone. There are no innovation or marketing secrets here. Just something very personal. I believe that there is a point when technology stops being a solution, and instead, becomes a question. Namely, how do you want to live? The tools of the 21st century may afford us the luxury of working anywhere, but how much of our work lives are deliberate decisions as opposed to accumulated accidents? If you started with a clean sheet of paper, how would you design your day? It’s harder than it sounds, and I also quickly learned that there were three things that stood in my way. I ended up calling them the three rules of freedom.
It's not hard to run late. Time is a more fluid concept that you might think. And I'm not talking about relativity. Before time became enslaved to an ensemble of atomic clocks around the world, it was tied to an official chronometer in Greenwich kept in synch to assist maritime navigation. This accounts for those references to GMT, or Greenwich Mean Time that turn up in those odd little meeting request messages dispatched by Outlook. Not that I paid much attention. Even when I owned a watch, I had little concept of a universal constant. Periodically when I turned up to get my hair cut, the clock in the salon was always five minutes fast. So naturally that meant I was always late and my hairdresser always yelled at me. I seriously considered synching my clocks to his one. His mean time was considerably meaner than that of Greenwich.
There is drawer in my house that is a graveyard. Adapters, gadgets, phones, music players, digital cameras - all once proud icons of the state of the art, now just a kind of art of the static. I know a Japanese blogger who inscribes in marker pen the date he buys a new toy so that he knows for how long he has had it. That strikes me as macabre. I don't want to be reminded of the half life of contemporary treasure. But still, it raises an interesting question. Should we despair at obsolescence or rejoice in the cult of the new?
Every time I grab my bag and walk across the gangway onto a plane, I wonder just how much longer we are going to be able to get away with this. Riding these massive metal leviathans spewing out environment destroying toxins like some kind of medieval dragon. And if that sounds strange, don't forget that doctors once recommended cigarettes too.
There is an old man who works at the end of my street in Hong Kong. Every day he sews clothes, repairs handbags, and stitches threads. He never looks up. When I walk past him I think of those sped up movies they play on TV of a plant growing, as the sun and stars move around in a blur. Except in my tailor's case, it would glittering skyscrapers growing, collapsing and rising again at high speed around him as he worked. I wish I could be there to take a picture of his expression at the moment he finally looked up.
© 2013 Tomorrow Limited